Archive for July, 2009

Richard Gordon – collection or not

Posted on 30 July 2009. Filed under: Collections | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Am I collecting Richard Gordon? It’s such a good question and I really don’t know. Let me ramble on about him for a bit and we’ll see where I end up.

Starting with a search on Wikipedia, it’s the first place I go to when researching authors. A very interesting search it brings up a list of 10 people with this name, my Richard Gordon just happens to be the first on the list although the other nine people have done interesting things including being an astronaut.

The man I’m talking about was actually born Gordon Ostlere on 15th September 1921. He was a trained surgeon and anaesthetist, writing several medical books under his own name. Richard gave up the medical profession in 1952 to focus on writing. I remember his books from my childhood as a couple of them were made into movies with the gorgeous Dirk Bogarde (more about him another time) and with a TV series following. Doctor in the House was first published in 1952 and is the story of Simon Sparrow’s beginning at St Swithin’s hospital. This book was autobiographical and I believe parts of the others were also based on his own life. The earlier books are fine but the sexual innuendo increases dramatically as the characters age.

On my shelf (in no particular order) the following titles can be found:

Doctor in the House
Doctor and Son
Doctor in Love
Doctor at Large
Bedside Manners
Doctor in Clover
Doctor on the Boil
Doctor in the Nest

Bear in mind I’ve been reading Richard Gordon for a good deal of my life and there are 25 books listed on his Wikipedia entry. Also bear in mind a sale I made the other month to someone who was collecting Richard Gordon. The buyer was looking for several of his books and I ended up raiding my bookshelf to help them out. On the other hand since that sale I bought the last two books on the list with the intention of putting them up on the website for sale but somehow they found themselves onto my bookshelf. I’d like to know how that happens as one of them was actually in one of my boxes and still ended up on my shelf.

I hope you now understand why I’m not certain if I’m collecting them. I’d like to as he is a really good author but on the other hand (how many hands have I got here??) I have so many books on my bookshelf that many of them are double stacked making it that much harder to find specific titles. Please don’t suggest I buy more shelving as the only space for it is on the ceiling. One day I might measure my shelves and scare myself silly with the measurements – although that would make a good blog post. Hmmm, let me dwell on that idea for a while. While I’m dwelling on thoughts for other blog posts I’d really like your comments on this as to whether you think it’s a collection.

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Books with possible problems

Posted on 26 July 2009. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , , , , , |

I know this is old news as Skip McGrath blogged about it in May, but you should know by now that I don’t always give you this information at the time of publishing. You can look at his blog for further details, but basically he’s blogged about a guy in America who forged signatures of popular authors and then sold them for inflated prices on eBay.

I do want to reassure my readers I do not condone the practice of forging signatures or misrepresenting books in any way. If a book has a signature and I can’t verify it I will mention that in the listing and price it accordingly so you know what you’re getting. If a book is not a collectable title and is in really terrible condition I will commit the cardinal sin of throwing it in the recycling. Yes, sometimes I do get books in such condition but only when I buy in bulk and can’t vet all of those books before taking them home so sometimes I will bring home a book in dreadful condition. There is the odd exception for very collectable books and Beebo is one such exception. They are very collectable and there are very few of this title listed on the internet. It’s in such poor condition that I’ve priced it very low.

I was very lucky one day with a book I listed on spec on eBay. When I picked it up to list it the cover fell off and I debated throwing it out, but the book was in a collectable series and so I listed it for 99c thinking if it didn’t sell I would only have lost 30c. The book had multiple bids and ended up selling for a very nice price so I upgraded to registered post at my expense.

Anyway, I feel a ramble coming on so I’ll stop here and leave you with a final reminder for the current competition.

Don’t forget, today is the last day to make your comment and enter the competition. I’ll be announcing the winner in the newsletter tomorrow.

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The Moon in Science Fiction

Posted on 23 July 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Yes, I know I’m a little late, but better late than never. Landing on the moon in real life as opposed to science fiction was a massive step. It made so many people’s dreams come true and so many of us want to be in space and on the moon, I know I’m not alone in that dream. My grandmother wanted to be the oldest person in space and if she’d been born in a different era she would definitely have pulled out all stops to make it happen.

If you look at literature you’ll see so many instances of flights to the moon beginning with Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon written in 1865 and H. G. Well’s The First Men in the Moon written in 1901. Isaac Asimov set many of his stories on the moon as did Arthur C. Clarke. I could give you a long list of English speaking authors who have written books set on the moon including Robert A. Heinlein and Larry Niven, but I won’t as that will look like I’m just trying to have lots of tags to bring more readers. I’m going to take a little look at French Science Fiction.

Pre-dating English speaking writers by quite some decades, Cyrano de Bergerac wrote The Other World: The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon in 1657 and The Comical History of the States and the Empires of the Sun unfortunately he failed to complete this last one before his death in 1655 which describe fictional journeys to the Moon and Sun. I pinched this little bit of information from Wikipedia which quite fails to examine how he could have written a book two years after he died. The answer is given here along with the French names of the books. Voyage dans le Lune (1657) and L’histoire des états et Empires du Soleil (1662) both being published posthumously. I don’t know why so many of the best books had to wait until after the author’s death to be published, but I’m sure there’s a good reason…or not.

Here I’m going to swipe bits from Wikipedia again and you can see the whole post here. Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle wrote Entretien sur la Pluralité des Mondes or the English title Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds in 1686 with a philospher musing on the possibility of there being extraterrestrial life, although not necessarily discussing the idea of humans being on the moon it is still a fairly early discussion of extraterrestrial life and you can find it on Google Books. Voltaire’s short stories written in Micromégas and Plato’s Dream are particularly prophetic of the future directions science fiction would take. Somehow I’m getting away from humans being on the moon and edging towards extraterrestrials.

So, having lost the idea of humans being on the moon I’ll just take this entire bit from Wikipedia. Also worthy of note are Simon Tyssot de Patot’s Voyages et Aventures de Jacques Massé (1710), which features a Lost World, La Vie, Les Aventures et Le Voyage de Groenland du Révérend Père Cordelier Pierre de Mésange (1720), which features a Hollow Earth, Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s L’An 2440 (1771), which depicts a future France, and Nicolas-Edmé Restif de la Bretonne’s La Découverte Australe par un Homme Volant (1781) notorious for his prophetic inventions.

I think the lesson there is that French authors were looking at life on other planets long before English authors. They were creating science fiction many decades before English speaking authors. Speaking as an English speaker (what a dreadful phrase, I’m sure there is a better phrase for that) I have always felt that English authors were the best and that no other country could have written science fiction first so this brief foray into walking on the Moon has taken me places I never felt possible. It’s been a real eye-opener for me and it feels very appropriate that I started writing about walking on the Moon slightly later than anyone else as I’m sure so many other people knew the French were leaders in the Science Fiction field long before me. I think I’m going to stop there as I’m about to start rambling, I can just feel a ramble about nothing coming on.

Edit: Forgot to remind everyone there’s only a few more days of this competition left. You have to comment to be in it.

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Doctor Who and being blogged

Posted on 20 July 2009. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I’m sure you want to know what Doctor Who and me being blogged have to do with each other. Actually, to be honest, nothing at all. I only have a few words to say about both things and I’m going to talk about both of them today to make a longer blog.

A few days ago I mentioned a Doctor Who meeting my eldest was organising. It was great fun. For the initiated we watched An Unearthly Child episodes 1-4 (with jelly babies in hand) which just happen to be the first four episodes of Doctor Who. It was fabulous seeing William Hartnell again. I don’t think I’ve seen him for a very long time. Lovely to go back and see what it used to be like and to compare William Hartnell with David Tennant. Anyway, she is planning more meetings so if you’re in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne and you don’t mind being threatened by miniature Daleks you might want to watch this space. You could also join the Doctor Who Club of Victoria.

I really don’t like bragging and I admit to being really uncomfortable about writing this and about the blog, but I put my hand up to be interviewed a few weeks ago in a fit of confidence and today I received notification that my entry had been published. Melissa Norfolk is a lovely lady who gave a presentation at the recent Business Mums Conference. Her presentation was on websites and she gave me such confidence about my own website I finally felt able to add the extra pages I’d been considering. She’s written a book called Starting an Online Business for Dummies and I really recommend it for anyone just starting out. I also recommend you visit her blog in a few days after my entry has hidden itself a bit, might make me feel a little less self conscious about it.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning – Lemony Snicket

Posted on 16 July 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , |

This is the story of three children who are orphaned at a young age. They are then ‘looked after’ by a cousin.
I started this book with immense interest as I do like to see what the majority is reading. I was not excited by it. We are told at several points that this is not a nice book and nice things do not happen to the children. I felt the tone of the whole book was very patronising. I did, however, like the way concepts, phrases and even words were explained. A lot of books talk about things and expect the reader to know, but I’ve found that a number of children don’t bother to ask and it helps to have them explained within the book. In my eyes it was the only redeeming feature. You can find it for sale here.

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“But it’s a good book!”…. in awful condition

Posted on 14 July 2009. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , , , , , , , |

One of the continuing problems for secondhand book sellers is when people want to sell you books.

There’s the people who bring loads of books in any kind of condition; good, bad or just awful, and expect you to pay retail prices for them. They just miss seeing that you still have to pay for expenses and storage and don’t forget that you actually want to make a profit. I’m actually not sure what they’re thinking at that point, but it isn’t about the book seller making a profit. I sometimes bargain with them for the books I want for me, but generally suggest they sell them on eBay or Oztion themselves as it’s not worth my while to pay the prices they’re asking.

Then there are the people who insist on trying to tell you their books are fabulous. They might be in fabulous condition as if they haven’t been read, but are a-dime-a-dozen and not worth paying anything at all. They might be fabulous titles but are in such dreadful condition that they only place for them is the recycling bin. The Book Shop Blog makes this last point very nicely hence the title of this blog.

There are two things that hurt me the most when people offer me books. One is when they’re great books and I just don’t have the cash due to being in a poor cash flow situation and the other is when I have to turn them down due to having no space. It’s just one of the problems I face due to working from home. I might blog about working from home another time after the Doctor Who meeting at our place on Saturday.

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Authors from my childhood

Posted on 11 July 2009. Filed under: Buying Time | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I’ve recently picked up a box of books to sell. Some of them have been written by fabuloso authors from my childhood and I’ll be very excited to re-read some of them before I list them, it’s going to make for a very slow listing process.

One of my favourite books of all time is Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams. It’s truly a wonderful book, I always loved the idea of a talking cat who was also a witch’s cat. What I didn’t was was that she wrote 60 books. I’ve just done a little research, something which is so much easier now than when I was young, to find this out.

One author who totally fascinated me is Rumer Godden, author of An Episode of Sparrows. I currently have other books by her listed for sale and when I find time I’ll be reading Mouse Time and The Diddakoi and will give a review and a brief run down of Rumer.

There’s some Susan Cooper in the box who is always good value.

Another of my favourite books of all time is Carbonelby Barbara Sleigh. Another book about witch’s and cats. Is anyone detecting a theme here?

Having carefully not mentioned Astrid Lindgren or L.M. Montgomery I’ll finish this blog by guaranteeing they will all be listed on my website for selling and they will NOT find their way onto my shelves.

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Dragon Slayer (The Story of Beowulf) – Rosemary Sutcliff

Posted on 9 July 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Beowulf is the ultimate in adventure stories it was written somewhere between the 8th and 12th centuries. The poem itself has 3,182 lines. I had heard of Beowulf and had even been read a brief except from it by my English Literature teacher a couple of years ago, but I’d never read the whole story in full so when I found Rosemary Sutcliff’s interpretation I was delighted and picked it up immediately.

Rosemary Sutcliff was a wonderful author, I remember her works with great fondness from my childhood. She wrote fabulous historical fiction for children but the depth and quality of her writing make her very good to be read by any group. I do recommend people start reading her in the pre-teens and early teens, but if you haven’t read her works before then now is a very good time to start.

I’m actually meant to be reviewing Dragon Slayer and not Beowulf so here we go. Dragon Slayer is the story of Beowulf for young people. Beowulf feels obligated to help out the Danish king Hroðgar as he has helped Beowulf’s father pay weregild. He and his men spend the night in the hall Heorot and he kills Grendel, a marauding monster. Grendel’s mother takes offence at this and Beowulf finds himself battling and killing her. He eventually becomes king of his people and at a great age he battles a dragon, killing with the help of Wiglaf but the cost is too high and Beowulf dies.

What a great story and I know understand why they had to make a movie out of it as it is exactly that sort of story. I enjoyed it all the way through. Rosemary had a way with words and could make any scene sound alive. I couldn’t quite visualise Grendel or his mother, but there are some line drawings which go a long way to help. This book gives a fabulous insight into the period it is likely to have been set. I express it in that way as there is a lot of argument as to when it was actually composed. Whether it was composed when it was written or whether it was oral history passed down the ages. As with a lot of her books I would recommend it for pre-teens to early teens who are okay with violence and gore.

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Jody Lynn Nye

Posted on 6 July 2009. Filed under: Authors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I have been avoiding getting swept up by the whole Twitter thing until today. I noticed it was Jody Lynn Nye’s birthday on the 5th July and decided she would be a really good person to write about. She’s been a co-author with a number of my favourite authors such as Anne McCaffrey and Robert Asprin as well as writing some Crossroads books. I know it doesn’t have much to do with Twitter, but I happened to come across her Twitter page and was promptly captivated into reading her latest Tweets. Fascinating stuff, well, some of it. She talks about EE ‘Doc’ Smith’s Lensman being made into a movie by JM Straczynski and Ron Howard in her latest which is problematic for me as I don’t actually like the Lensman series. But I scrolled further down and she talks about writing and baby raccoons amongst other stuff. I was fascinated by most of this and it’s making me seriously consider signing up for Twitter so I can follow her and also look up some of my favourite authors to see if I want to follow them as well.

Just so you think this is about Jody Lynn Nye and not about me Tweeting I’ll give you some more information and a link to her webpage. You need to click through and look at the Applied Mythology icon, it’s just gorgeous.

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On the Banks of Plum Creek – Laura Ingalls Wilder

Posted on 2 July 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , |

In this book Laura and her family move to Plum Creek. They spend some time living under the river bank before Pa Ingalls builds a proper house. The girls have many adventures including being trusted to be left alone for a day, unfortunately the blizzard hit earlier than expected. The girls took it upon themselves to bring in some wood from the woodpile completely forgetting to stop and end up bringing in the entire pile, enough for two weeks.

I enjoyed this series as a child and am enjoying them again as an adult and a parent. It’s truly amazing to look back at this documented history and see how much freedom children had in those days and to see how much responsibility they were given as opposed to now. If I had left my kids alone for a day when they were 8 or 9 I would have been in serious trouble but back then they were just expected to cope and grow up. Almost everything was made by hand and there was much excitement when Pa Ingalls was able to buy a broom, they were astonished to find how even the bristles were. It is in this book that they first start school. I love getting an idea of how school was run back then, it was so different. They used to have to memorise everything and then repeat it back to the teacher. So much different to the way we learn now with assignments and research.

I’ve always enjoyed the writing, I find it simple without being patronising. I’d say it’d be good for pre-teens or early teens.

I hope this review makes sense. I’ve managed to pick up a virus and I’m being grateful it’s none of the ‘flus that are going around.

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